When we first started offering a regional eBook collection we began looking at a variety of K–12 products that could meet the needs of our students and teachers. We spent many hours investigating interfaces that could be effective for our younger students. I wanted something with a child-friendly user experience that was engaging and allowed for a personalized experience. We also were dealing with resistance from school librarians who were understandably worried that eBooks might be detrimental for their jobs and their physical collections. However, we knew that eBooks and digital textbooks were coming and they would come with or without the librarians' support. It was my job to ensure that when the implementation began, it began WITH the school librarians taking the lead.
We had to overcome a great deal of both criticism and cynicism and most often heard that school librarians and teachers spend more time on helping students access the books and on instructing students how to use a device than they do in actually integrating the eBooks into instructional strategies that enhance the curriculum. While we are sympathetic, we are in the game of "creating solutions, not making excuses." Yes, our educators need to spend time introducing the students to the basic technology skills they need to navigate the eBooks on their devices and, yes, that time is short and precious but just as we teach procedures in our classrooms at the beginning of each year, we need to spend time on the technology skills. Students can and will develop those skills quickly and then you can focus on reading!
Sora, the new K-12 app introduced by OverDrive this past fall, is a perfect example of a platform that has an easy, user-friendly interface for our youngest readers. The one tap access to the books makes for easy access and our students can keep track of what they've read, how many minutes they've read, and even earn badges for reading. The integration of eBooks not only enhance your collection but also builds your capacity to meet the needs of even your most struggling and reluctant readers. And, that my friends, is a win-win no matter what way you look at it!